Credit Stress

“Stress up 40%.  Anxiety, depression and mental illness on the increase,” reports CIPD.

Clearly the gloom and uncertainty created by global financial mismanagement are in large part to blame.  National bankruptcy and stagnation put jobs, businesses and tax take at risk, leaving governments and individuals alike wondering how to make ends meet.

But we cannot put all the blame on banks and politicians.  They have only done what many of us have done, albeit on a grander scale.  Remember when you “point the finger”, there are 3 fingers pointing back at yourself!

Governments and the public sector have spent too much.  That is the core problem – in Greece, in the US, in Britain … and in the average household.

They have treated themselves to affluence before they earned it.  They have borrowed money with no thought how they will cover the downside, see themselves through the (totally predictable 8 yearly) downturns or repay it.

So have we.

Charlie Kennedy fired the warning shot in 2004 when private UK debt topped £1 trillion.  Nobody listened.

What causes stress and worse is not the prospect of losing your job, it’s not having a plan for how you will pay the bills for 6 – 12 months after you lose your job, being unrecoverably in debt having blown the rainy day fund on extravagant holidays and unsustainable mortgages.

We can hardly blame Greece, RBS or even the worst culprits America, when we have been just as irresponsible.

Three further thoughts on this.  “Stress” is the wrong word.  Stress is good.  Stress puts the floppy rubber band to work – something that is long overdue in the public sector.  But when you overstretch the rubber, it snaps.  That’s Di-stress.  And it’s caused by living beyond your means.

Secondly, there are clearly many causes of distress.  CIPD cites work overload and “bad” bosses as well as the fear of redundancy.  But money worries and losing control of your debt and spending addiction aggravate these situations.  If you have some financial slack, you are more likely to insist that your workload is manageable, to part company with a louse.

Finally, perhaps with new awareness of the harsh economic realities we will be able to abandon all the fatuous unproductive procedural nonsense, robospeak and email overload that has built up over the last 20 years.

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